Thursday, April 22, 2010

I can't believe it's not meat! Official Launch for Quorn

        I was checking my emails one night last week and received this "random" email with the subject "INVITATION: Quorn Official Launch, Tuesday 20 April 2010" from MARK Communications "We would be delighted if you would join us for a glass of champagne and delicious tapas style food to celebrate the Australian launch of Quorn, the world's most popular meat free, soy free protein". I was quite suprised to receive this, totally not expecting it at all. I mean, I've been blogging for just a little over a month, and my motivation was not to get into events or anything but from reading some of the more popular blogs and the events they get invited to it sounds pretty cool. So what am I supposed to do...? Decline? Accept?‏ Go Alone? Bring a friend? I wasn't even familiar with the product and the invitation was quite brief and mysterious so I was very unsure about it at first. I hit up the Quorn website and am even more weary when I read about it but when I mention the launch and product to Di she instantly knows what I am talking about it says it's cool, it's a legitimate product =D. I email them and they say it's okay to bring a friend so I invite Di along as Ryan is working that night.

(Photo from MARK Communications)
        So we arrive at the location and are very weary as we see so many unfamiliar places and not quite sure what to expect and wether we were in the right place. It looked almost like we were walking into someone's apartment as there were a couple of lounges and a small kitchen with people just everywhere. We obviously look lost so one of the ladies asks us if we're for the launch and offers us some drinks... champagne please! We follow her into what looks like a dining room and then out onto a balcony. There's a few people standing around and a spanish guitar player. I also get asked what blog I'm from... erm... I explain to them that I'm a newbie and have only been doing it for about a month... and I'm "Angie Lives To Eat". I swear I felt so... newb =D. I guess I was invited because I own a blog! After a while I realise that this evening was catered for bloggers, with the odd friend of a blogger or husband of a blogger there. It was a lovely atmosphere with all the candles, the guitar, and the food of course!

(Photo from MARK Communications)
        The first platter of food comes out and I just instantly think "Chicken Nuggets" and then am reminded of the fact that it's not meat! These were Chicken style Quorn dippers in a light crispy batter topped with a spiced beetroot and apple relish. I couldn't get over the fact that it tasted exactly like chicken nuggets and even the texture was there. They were good! I didn't take a photo, I was starving on arrival so just wanted to eat! I noticed the other bloggers pulling out their cameras and wondered if I should be doing the same... I just wanted to eat damn it! Plus, I've mentioned before that I don't usually do photos of food when eating out (unless in good lighting and I can do it discretely and only on some occasions and with my compact camera), I suppose this was an exception but I was really not wanting to do it. Because of the low light I pulled out my DSLR from my handbag but for some reason I just "forgot" how to use it, couldn't even operate the view function to show my photos and then when I tried to take a photo the focus was out but I couldn't get it right. I gave up and used my little Sony Cybershot instead. Even with the compact camera I had problems taking photos. Performance anxiety I think, I felt bad for the nice people bringing the food around to us!

(Photo from MARK Communications)
        Next were the Oven baked mini baguettes filled with pan fried Quorn sausages, caramelized onion and drizzled with a maple syrup & balsamic cream. Seriously, they tasted like beef sausages! I am told that apparantly these taste nothing like the soy sausages, they are even better. The sausage texture was definately there too, I could have been fooled if no one told me I wasn't eating meat. I also really liked the onions and maply syrup & balsamic cream, complimented the sausage perfectly. After the second dish we are shown a presentation about the brand and also some facts and figures from the nutritionist about the mycoprotein which is used to make the Quorn products. You can find most of the information on the Quorn website, this is the link for the UK site which is similar to the one Australia will have. Have a read about The Quorn Story. Once the presentation was over we were fed more food with A subtle taste of India ~Tender Quorn pieces brushed with Tikka marsala and studded with lime wedges. They were like chicken breast pieces, a little dry I found, just like chicken pieces when you overcook them =D. Feedback from another blogger who also happened to be a vegetarian was that it was just like chicken and was the best chicken substitute she had tasted (isn't it ironic when it's a meat free product launch and there is one vegetarian blogger, maybe all the bloggers love their meat too much).

        Next on the menu is Gnocchi Bolognese Bakes ~ pots of rich Quorn mince Bolognese sauce, topped with fresh mozzarella and baked until golden then topped with baby gnocchi shaved parmesan and fresh basil. This dish was good and hearty, and just looking at the mince... "I can't believe it's not meat!". The baby gnocchi was a little tough but I think it was more about the Quorn, the sauce was quite tasty  =D. We all get really talking now so are a little slow to finish our portions and a few of us were saying how we were already getting full, only to be told there's 2 more dishes to come! Following is the Spanish inspired slices of sausage nestled in a warm smoky paprika, tomato & olive salsa, I think these were the "chicken" Quorn sausages. Not a huge fan of this but was definately interesting to eat.

        Our last dish to come out was Middle Eastern spices panfried with Quorn mince, dolloped with a fresh mint yoghurt and sprinkled with dukkah, definately interesting to eat but again it wasn't my favourite of the night. The funny moment of the night is when a fruit platter of watermelon and strawberries comes out and everyone makes the "Is it Quorn?" joke. I thought it was pretty cool. Some of the other food bloggers I meet include Rachel, Alex, Sara and Daphne. I'm not usually one to be comfortable in a room full of strangers but everyone (bloggers and PR people alike) was so nice and friendly. I couldn't help but be nervous and sweat like hell though.

(Photo from MARK Communications)
        Quorn products will be officially available in stores in June, from Woolworths and Coles supermarkets. Australia will only have 11 Quorn products available to start with but I guess they will bring in more according to how well the products are received by the consumers. It is a frozen product which will be imported from the UK, they are well aware of sustainability and will look into seeing if the product can be manufactured locally. Unfortunately for my friends who are intolerant to gluten, these products are not gluten free due to the processes involved in making them. From the nutritional information given to us, I would definately consider giving this a go myself when it hits the freezers. I could probably do with some more healthier options for my mid week meals though I don't think I will ever be vegetarian by choice. I found the night quite interesting and informative.

***Please contact MARK Communications if you want any further information about the products***


foodie said...

Hi Angie - Nice review! It's very detailed. Am getting H to write this one up but he's still taking his time.. hehe

Phuoc'n Delicious said...

Hey! I was waiting for someone to write up about this.. I got the invite as well but wasn't too keen on the concept. I think I just love my meat too much for an alternative... :P

OohLookBel said...

LOL at the camera performance anxiety! It's good to know that you enjoyed the night. The product looks interesting, is it like the Asian mock meat (duck, goose)? It certainly looks better :)

Olive said...

sounds like a good really looks like real meat..the first photo makes me hungry :)

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Hi Daphne: Thanks =) Details to make up for lack of nice photos =D

Hi Phuoc: Hehe yeah, I was like... meat free? Hmmm. It was a good night though.

Belle: Haha seriously though, I felt absolutely appalled at myself for not being able to just "point and shoot". I'm not sure about the comparison to asian mock meat as I've never tried it! Might just pass that question on to my friend who was with me, she may have had the asian mock meat before.

Hi Olive: Yeah, if I hadn't known I was coming to the launch of a meat free product and no one had told me I would have been easily fooled (I am also very gullible though!)

foodwink said...

Sounds like a fun night! The food looks like the real deal (I don't mind Asian mock meat btw) :D

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Hi Foodwink: Yeah, it all looked so... meat like =D I know mum's had to use mock meat when she was making vegetarian steamed buns but I've never tried it.